David found this dish through a Cantonese YouTube video. It is super fast and easy to make. It is not really a stew but the shrimp flavored sauce and tofu mixes into a dish that feels like a stew. The mixture has a silky and velvety soft texture and full of shrimp flavor. Eat it spooned over a bowl of warm rice. It almost melts over the rice.
I know whole shrimps aren’t everybody’s cup of tea/freaks a lot of people out. But trust me, if you can fine whole shrimps, use it! This makes a huge difference to this dish. On the other hand, the clay pot is totally optional!
- 1 lb raw shrimp (whole shrimp is best, at the minimum you will need shrimp with shells)
- 1 package silken tofu
- 2 green onions or handful of chives
- 1 cup cooking wine
- 2 tablespoon peanut/vegetable oil
- Salt to taste, around 1 tsbp
(Are you wondering now what makes the dish so orange? Stay tuned!)
- Defrost shrimps if they are frozen.
- Butterfly the shrimp by pressing tip of sharp knife through the shell of the shrimp tail and cut lengthwise down the back. Don’t cut all the way. Leave head and tail on. Be careful when you do this. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting through the shell, use a pair of scissors to cut through down the shell first and then cut into shrimp tail with knife. (David is showing off, frankly I would use scissors.)
- For each shrimp, check for a black/yellow vein running down the back of the shrimp and THROW IT OUT! You should be able to pull this out of the raw shrimp. This is the digestive track of the shrimp… so yeah… shrimp poop. It is nearly impossible to remove once the shrimp is cooked because it break apart.
- Chop green onion.
- Cut tofu into large chunks. To off set how long it takes to prep the shrimp, you can cut the tofu in its packaging. But remember to drain the water!
- Heat up your pan until it is very hot. Add peanut oil.
- Add in shrimp and spread in 1 layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes until shell turns red. Keep heat high.
- Turn over shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes over high heat (David is showing off again, I would use a spatula…) Keep heat high.
- In the meanwhile, heat the empty clay pot over high heat.
- Add tofu and use spatula to mix. Don’t worry if the tofu breaks apart. Keep heat high for 1 minute.
- Add salt to taste.
- Pour shrimp tofu mixture into clay pot.
- Add in green onion.
- Close lid of pot and pour rice wine around the edge of the serving pot
- Turn off the heat on the clay pot and let the stew continue to cook in the hot clay pot until you are ready to eat (a few minutes ideally).
Important Side Notes:
- The reason you must use whole shrimps for this dish is due to what the “Huang” of the shrimp. It is the green/blue gel like substance between the head and tail of the shrimp. When you are pan frying the shrimp, this gel cooks and turns the oil a bright orange and creates the amazing flavor of this dish. “Huang” in Chinese means yellow color. While writing this, I google what Huang is scientifically (its the shrimp’s hepatopancreas) and frankly lets leave it at that. All you need to know is that Huang is delicious and basically considered by many Chinese people to be the best part of any crustacean (shrimp, crab, lobster).
- You can usually find whole shrimps in Asian grocery stores and I see whole shrimps occasionally in well stocked seafood section in traditional grocery stores as well. You can buy frozen and defrost it yourself.
- If you can’t find any whole shrimp, or despite everything I have written you just find the shrimp heads too creepy, by all means use raw shrimp tails with shells.
- The shrimp head isn’t edible, but you can suck on the back part of it for a few second to get all the sauce out. Kind of like sucking on bone marrow. (And if you don’t know what that is like, you are probably not going to want to do this either…)
- Be sure to spoon up some of the tofu sauce mixture over your warm rice. So good!
Home cooking means you must improvise:
- If you don’t have a clay pot, just adjust the recipe as follows:
- After you added tofu and salt to the shrimp mixture, add in an additional 2 tbsp of water. (You don’t need the water with the clay pot because the tofu provides water when it is being warmed in the pot.)
- Cook over medium heat with lid on the wok for another 2 minutes for the tofu to heat up.
- Add in green onion and serve.
- I like this dish best with silken tofu. But you can make it with soft or firm tofu as well.
- If you are using shrimp tail in shell, you can add 1 tbsp of ketchup to achieve some coloring. It adds a nice flavor as well.
- The clay pot is very much optional. It is 90% for a fancy presentation since we have it and it is easy to wash. 10% it keeps the dish warm even at the table.
- When I cook this for guests, I will frequently cut off the front part of the head (including the eyes) with cooking scissors in the prep stage. It take more effort but it makes guests less nervous.
Maybe I should have removed the shrimp heads in the pictures… but oh well… this is what this dish looks at in our home!